Greg Long – Owner, -IAQ Consulting Services Inc, Graeme Marsh – President, -Clean & Green HVAC – HVAC Maintenance and Cleaning in the 21st Century

Air Date: 3-18-2016| Episode: 406

This week on IAQ Radio we welcome back Greg Long who last joined us way back in 2007. Also joining us is Graeme Marsh the President of Clean and Green HVAC..

Full Description:

This week on IAQ Radio we welcome back Greg Long who last joined us way back in 2007. Also joining us is Graeme Marsh the President of Clean and Green HVAC. We are going to discuss HVAC maintenance and cleaning in the 21st century and how it can impact indoor air quality. Greg Long has been helping building owners with IAQ problems and cleaning mechanical systems for over 30 years. He is a Past President of NADCA and current member of the IAQA Board of Directors. Graeme is the President of Clean and Green HVAC a market leader in HVAC optimization through their national network of highly experienced, qualified HVAC contractors. This week we will discuss how HVAC cleaning has changed over the years including how probiotic cleaners have impacted the work Greg and Graeme are doing. They claim proper HVAC cleaning can restore performance, reduce energy costs, extend equipment life cycles and positively impacting IAQ, comfort and wellness. Let’s LEARN MORE about what they have to say this week on IAQ Radio!

The Z-Man’ Blog:

HVAC Cleaning & Maintenance in the 21st Century
Realizing that their clients wanted business not products and the economy of scale offered by selling national accounts; HVAC system pioneer and cleaning veteran Greg Long and serial entrepreneur Graeme Marsh are working together to optimize system performance and reduce energy costs through their national network of highly experienced HVAC contractors.
Nuggets mined from today’s episode:
Greg: Background. Active in NADCA and standards writing. Second generation HVAC systems cleaner. Has been in HVAC cleaning since 1973. Consults business helping clients manage large HVAC projects, HVAC system inspections for attorneys and healthcare. Works with Clean & Green HVAC.
Graeme: Background. Formerly was involved with a penetrating organosilane coating product rooted in the health industry which proved useful for corrosion protection in the oil & gas industry.
Graeme: Probiotic cleaning company is a game changer.He was first introduced to HVAC systems as a youngster when he worked for a family friend who ran Carrier Air Conditioning in Southeast Asia. Worked on the idea of what probiotic cleaning would do for HVAC. Is focused on bringing probiotic cleaning into the HVAC space. Has available solutions for cooling towers, internal cleaning of chilled water loops, thermal transfer impact, equipment life cycle and reducing energy costs.
Greg: Changes in HVAC cleaning over the last 30 years. Witnessed the introduction of the use of compressed air, electric and pneumatic cleaning tools, robots, etc. The primary reason for HVAC system cleaning is energy improvement by operating the HVAC system as designed or to closer to as designed. Sealing systems, improved coil cleaning have the most impact on energy savings.
Graeme: What are probiotics? Probiotic biology involves different classes of beneficial nonpathogenic bacteria as opposed to pathogenic bacteria. Pathogenic bacteria cause odors and can exploit an immune system weakness and cause infection and disease (MRSA and C. diff are examples). Pathogenic bacteria and the biofilm they create can cause “dirty sock syndrome” foul odors originating and emanating in the HVAC system and loss of system thermal transfer efficiency.
Factoid Biofilm- “A complex structure adhering to surfaces that are regularly in contact with water,consisting of colonies of bacteria and usually other microorganisms such as yeasts, fungi, andprotozoa that secrete a mucilaginous protective coating in which they are encased. Biofilms can formon solid or liquid surfaces as well as on soft tissue in living organisms and are typically resistant toconventional methods of disinfection…”
Greg: Biofilm on coils. Has seen coils clogged by biofilm. Biofilm on HVAC coils impedes heat transfer thereby wasting energy. Was fortunate to receive permission to experiment on an old building with an old HVAC system that had sophisticated performance capability.
Greg: Coil cleaning chemicals. The majority of coil cleaning chemicals are highly alkaline or acidic and may damage coils during cleaning by stripping small amounts of aluminum from coils forming pits and valleys which fill with soil and biofilm preventing proper drainage. Biofilm also causes corrosion.
Its commonplace for coils to be incorrectly cleaned resulting in soil compaction at the bottom of the coil. Proper coil cleaning takes time and effort.
Greg’s Preferred method for coil cleaning. Coils will be pretreated with probiotic cleaner and given necessary dwell time: minutes to hours depending on situation. Coils are washed with high volume, high pressure, high temperature steam. Steam spray should be done from the most effective distance and angle. Coils should be cleaned from bottom up. Begin cleaning on the lower leaving side of the coil, flush out and across.Then move to the opposing and corresponding side of the coil. Working upwards clean both sides of the coil. By working in this manner all soil will run out of the bottom.
Graeme: Most cleaning technologies are focused on killing everything. This creates an unnatural, unsustainable environment. Nature abhors a vacuum. We need balance. Probiotic cleaning works on the principle of competitive exclusion, where good microbes out-consume the available nutrients so the bad microbes starve to death. According to Jessica Green, (University of Oregon) the microbiome of mechanically ventilated buildings is much less diverse, with a higher concentration of pathogens.Akin to people eating yogurt as a source of healthy probiotics, we need yogurt for buildings. Graeme claims his product is yogurt for the HVAC system.


Most antimicrobial cleaners are indiscriminate and kill everything. The conventional cleaning chemistry is based upon quats, bleaches, oxidizers, acids and caustics. The physics of cleaning involve wiping, vacuuming and sweeping. This traditional combination of physics and chemistry is the conventional approach being used to address the biological issue of pathogens and biofilm.
“Microbiology 101, No matter how big the cleaning hammer, microbes will always adapt.”Introducing probiotics to the cleaning process delivers a biological solution which is best for addressing a biological problem.When pathogenic microbes attain critical mass they become harmful. Microbes are demonstrating a resilience and appear to becoming resistant to conventional cleaning chemistry in ways that appear similar to how pathogens have become resistant to antibiotics.
Chemical sensitivity is one of the reasons for a shift to green cleaning.Surfaces cleaned with probiotic based cleaning agents are overpopulated with probiotics to out consume and starve out microbial competitors. “You can’t mutate to survive starvation.”
Probiotics are self-regulating, dying off when they run out of food. Probiotics are made from GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) ingredients. Probiotics can inhibit recolonization by competition providing a lasting level of clean.Graeme: Products. Acidic and caustic cleaners can be hazardous and result in Workmen’s Comp claims.
Probiotic cleaning products are pH neutral liquid both in concentrate and diluted form. The probiotic HVAC Coil Cleaner is designed to be diluted 10-1. Products can be sprayed or foamed onto target surfaces.
Greg: Verification of cleanliness. A member of the NADCA standards committee since its inception. NADCA first developed a vacuum test using a Mixed Cellulose Ester (MCE) filter cassette, the test if for hard surfaces only. A 100 cm square of a flat surface is vacuumed, with a vacuum pump and an MCE filter cassette the weights of which are recorded before and after sampling.
He sees a big increase in the use verification methods as cleaning specifications and contracts are requiring more.
Methods of verification of cleanliness:
-Visual inspection
-Visual surface comparison (side by side vacuum) noting visible differences/changes.
-Number of tests is related to the size of the job and the specifications.
-In Texas a special license is required to perform microbial sampling.
-To get a more accurate assessment of the cleanliness of the system, he recommends a  new access opening should be made for each sample.
Graeme: Cleanliness verification.ATP sampling measures the probability of biofilm. Each manufacturer of ATP meters has their own proprietary calibrated scale. Lab testing can determine the unique bio-luminescence load of probiotic cleaners. On Hygiena’s SURE Plus meter it is approximately 5.
Factoid: Relative light unit, a unit for measuring cleanliness by measuring the levels of Adenosine Triphosphate.
ATP sampling useful for high touch surfaces: doorknobs, computer keyboards, phones, etc.
ATP sampling is often impractical for HVAC systems. More useful on blower wheel and drain pan.Greg: Extending longevity of coil cleanliness. In a building which formerly needed regular / annual coil cleanings, following a thorough coil cleaning and then the installation of an automated spray system to reapply probiotics the coils for a few minutes twice a week, these coils have remained clean for several years.
Greg: Efficiency of coil cleaning can be verified by:
-Measuring pressure differentials across coils.
-Measuring water temps entering and leaving the coils
-Energy savings
-BTUs per gallon of chilled water
Contact info:
Gary Holmes, manufacturer of probiotic cleaners
Email: / Office: 310-643-1602 (Carlsbad CA)
Graeme Marsh, Pres. Green & Clean HVAC
Greg Long, IAQ Consulting Services, Inc.
Today’s music:”Bacteria- A Song” by Florence Shecter YouTube
Z-man signing off
Trivia question:
Not all types of bacteria are bad for you. In fact, your body needs a certain amount of bacteria to function properly. Name this bacteria found naturally in the body, usually in the intestines, mouth, or female genitals. It’s considered beneficial to human health because this bacteria doesn’t cause disease. It produces vitamin K as well as lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose (the sugars in milk products). This “helpful” bacteria is also a popular probiotic. A popular source for this bacteria is Greek yogurt. Name it
Lactobacillus acidophilus